A series on Expat depression: introduction

Last year I wrote a post that has been read again and again and again…..barely a day goes by when it, or another on the same subject, doesn’t get looked at. When I wrote the post I don’t think I had any idea what a big topic this was. I almost didn’t write it at all, it was actually a bit of a last-minute thing prompted by a link someone had put on my Facebook page.

What was this post about? Expat depression. And since writing that post, I have realised just what a neglected subject this is.

Time to Talk

The original post was called Depression and the Expat Life: Something we Don’t Talk About Enough. I wrote it to mark the 2015 Time to Talk campaign – a UK campaign that encourages us all to talk to someone about mental health. Today is the 2016 Time to Talk day and this seems like the perfect time to launch my new series on expat depression. The campaign is about de-stigmatising mental health issues, and in my original post I set out to highlight how this was something that we needed to do within the expat world where these issues can really be a big problem.

That post has been read many times since I wrote it, not because I have a huge following but because a lot of people find it by searching under the term “expat depression” or something similar. The more I realised this was happening, the more I realised I needed to write more about this important subject.


Interview with a professional

Due to the pressures of finishing and publishing my book the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide (which includes a chapter on culture shock and depression), and then moving to South Africa, it took me a while to get back to this. Eventually though I was contacted by an expert on the subject – Anita Colombara, who is mental health specialist with a particular interest in the international community. Anita agreed to be interviewed for my blog and to fill in some of the gaps I had about depression in the expat community. The information she was able to give me was excellent, really good practical stuff that I  hope will help a lot of people.

But although the reaction to Anita’s interview was great, with lots of views and lots of feedback, I still knew there were plenty of people out there that I wasn’t reaching. So I decided to tackle this subject properly. Following the same format as I used to write the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, I felt that the best way to do this would be to share real-life stories, experiences, tips and advice. Often, just knowing you are not alone can help. So I set up a survey and watched as the answers came in.

Shared experiences

In the end, I had pages and pages of material. Some of the answers were one-liners, some were out-pourings. I was awed that people were willing to share so much, convinced the more I read how important it was that I did this.

It is important though to point out that I am not a medical professional, a therapist or a counsellor. My role here is as a writer and blogger, as well as an expat. I am not the one who can tell you what to do or how to cope. I can only do what I have been doing ever since I wrote my book which is to share the experiences of myself and of others. By doing this I genuinely hope I will help others – by making them realise they are not alone, things will get easier, that they should seek help, that they should talk to someone, how they can help themselves, where they can get help from…..

As I am not the expert I decided to call on the assistance of a professional to ensure that what is published stays within the remit of being responsible. So for this reason I have asked Anita to be part of this series. I have asked her to read each post before it is published and to contribute if she thinks it would be helpful. Many people pointed out as I asked for help with the survey that there was a difference between clinical and situational depression, and that the responses to each could be quite different. I want to explore these differences and I want to ensure that anyone who thinks they need help knows where to at least start trying to find it.

New series

So today, Time to Talk day, I launch this new series on expat depression as a way to hopefully help everyone out there who is suffering from one of the unspoken sides of expat life. I hope to post weekly and will include when and why depression is most likely to hit, how it manifests itself, the link between culture shock and depression and the ways people have found to help themselves. Later I will also talk about how to help others – including partners.

I hope many people will find these posts useful; even if you yourself don’t think this is something you need to know about please share as you see appropriate as only by reaching as many people as possible will I feel I have started to do what I set out to do. I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Photo credit: ashley rose

20 thoughts on “A series on Expat depression: introduction

  1. Depression is something that’s absolutely not talked about in expat circles. There are always the expats who go home for a holiday and never come back. There are whispers and rumours, but often no one knows for sure why or where they’ve gone and often weren’t aware that there was a struggle going on behind the scenes. The tougher the posting, the more likely this is to happen. Well done for tackling such an under addressed, difficult and important subject. Thanks Clara.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am super looking forward to reading this each week or each post, no pressure😉.
    I also feel in a position to help people and the more you understand it from all the different lessons we learn I think the more compassionate you become. Its an amazing idea, ive been expat for 16 years almost and only realised last year what the problem was and why I felt the way I did. After reaching out and getting help. I see the need for this and will be sure to pass it far and wide to anybody else who needs it. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SUCH a good idea, I am quite sure you have thought of this and will cover these 2 topics in depth, but perhaps ways of recognising this early and secondly coping strategies would I am sure be helpful to a lot of people.

    This blog has been so helpful to me in the last few months. Kind Regards, Catherine


  4. Pingback: A series on expat depression: round-up |

  5. First of January 2018 and I’m reading this, after six months ago I moved to the Netherlands. I thought I was unable to value the great opportunity I had to experience another country and culture, I was convinced that I was not so smart /emotionally intelligent or thankful enough to appreciate it. But now I see is something more complex than that. I hope I can move forward and get over it, because some days are really unbearable.


    • I’m so sorry Norma, that sounds really tough. This is a particularly bad time of year too. Settling in somewhere new can take a while, and there’s no set time how long it will take. It’s different for everyone and every situation. And often harder in an “easy” country like the Netherlands where you feel like it SHOULD be easy. Look after yourself, and know that with time it will get easier x


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